Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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RUDRA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'A howler or roarer; terrible.' In the Vedas Rudra has many attributes and many names. He is the howling terrible god, the god of storms, the father of the Rudras or Maruts, and is sometimes identified with the god of fire. On the one hand he is a destructive deity who brings diseases upon men and cattle, and upon the other he is a beneficient deity supposed to have a healing influence. These are the germs which afterwards developed into the god Siva. It is worthy of note that Rudra is first called Mahadeva in the White Yajurveda. As applied to the god Siva, the name of Rudra generally designates him in his destructive character. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad the Rudras are "ten vital breaths (prana) with the heart (manas) as eleventh." In the Vishnu Purana the god Rudra is said to have sprung from the forehead of Brahma, and at the command of the god to have separated his nature into male and female, then to have multiplied each of these into eleven persons, some of which were white and gentle, others black and furious. Elsewhere it is said that the eleven Rudras were sons of Kasyapa and Surabhi, and in another chapter of the same Purana it is represented that Brahma desired to create a son, and that Rudra came into existence as a youth. He wept and asked for a name. Brahma gave him the name of Rudra; but he wept seven times more, and so he obtained seven other names: Bhava, Sarva, Isana, Pasupati, Bhima, Ugra, and Mahadeva. Other of the Puranas agree in this nomenclature. These names are sometimes used for Rudra or Siva himself, and at others for the seven manifestations of him, sometimes called his sons. The names of the eleven Rudras vary considerably in different books.

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM